Drugmaker, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, on Friday refuted media reports that the company has received a whistleblower complaint over corporate governance issues and has requested the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to probe the role of some media houses and other stakeholders.
According to the media report,
Aditya Medisales (AML) has had transactions worth more than Rs 5,800 crore with Suraksha Realty, controlled by Sun Pharma’s co-promoter, Sudhir Valia between 2014 and 2017. This is as per a new 172-page complaint (with documents) sent by the whistleblower on Sun Pharma to the market regulator, Sebi.
"The said whistleblower documents and other confidential emails are being offered for inspection to institutional investors by one media house as per the above report, which again we are not privy to," the company said.
Sun Pharma said, "In these circumstances, there is a great asymmetry in the information circulating between analysts, investors and media leading to intense speculation. The availability of information contained in the whistleblower documents to a set of selective investors does put other investors including retail investors in a disadvantageous position."
Supporting Sun Pharma's statement, JN Gupta, a former executive director of Sebi, said the company may not be aware of the content of the whistleblower's complaint.
"Now, Sebi’s duty is now multiplied two-fold. Firstly, it has to probe whether there is any truth in the complaint or not. Secondly, if there is no truth or even if there is a truth, why there has been selective leakage of information to people," Gupta said.
Denying any selective leak from the magazine side, Debashis Basu, founder, Moneylife, said, "We have given the information to institutional investors and subsequently analysts have seen the reports and there is nothing selective about it. I have already written three articles on Sun Pharma, which are already there in the public domain. So, this is a publicly available information in any case. Each time I have asked them (Sun Pharma), I got a reply and I have published it. Third time, they had not replied. If they replied, we will publish that reply also."
Hetal Dalal, chief operating officer, IIAS, said, “The larger issue is the board's inability to address some of the concerns that the whistleblower letter seems to have raised. Sun Pharma saying that the company has not received any complaint is a reasonably weak argument."
"Sebi has mandated that companies have a whistle-blower policy. Even if the whistleblower wanted to send the letter to Sun Pharma, there is really no whistleblower policy access available in the public domain. It is an internal policy, which Sun Pharma has not made available to external shareholders. So, Sun Pharma has to take onus and responsibility for not creating that opportunity for whistleblower to approach the company," Dalal said.Last year, shares of the company had plummeted after a note allegedly circulated by brokerage firm Macquarie brought to light various corporate misgovernance issues at the country's leading drug company.